Where to See Wildflowers

Natural Instinct

You belong among the wildflowers.

Lauren McCarran Attractions, Current Guide

Where to See Wildflowers
Shields Date Garden in Indio features a series of statues, installed from 2012 to 2013, that depict biblical scenes chronicling the life of Christ.

We love this desert’s vast expanse of windmill-dotted sand and chiseled mountain skyline as much as any tourist sharing snapshots from Interstate 10, but come springtime, the blossoming of verdant plant life pulls our gaze to Greater Palm Springs’ nature sanctuaries and gardens. Whether you seek a serene space for meditation, a stroll with the fam, or a lush backdrop for the ’gram, these oases make for the ideal spots to get lost.

Shields Date Garden

Established in 1924 by pioneering date farmer Floyd Shields and his wife, Bess, Shields Date Garden is much more than the place to score a quintessential Coachella Valley date shake (of course, you can’t leave without ordering one). Citrus trees line the walkway that leads to a central pond and 17-acre date farm. The property also features a series of statues, installed from 2012 to 2013, that depict biblical scenes chronicling the life of Christ. Entry to the garden is $5 per person, and a self-guided tour map with audio commentary on the statue scenes is available online. shieldsdategarden.com

Palm Desert Gardens


Sunnylands Child


Sunnylands Center & Gardens
Rancho Mirage

Formerly owned by diplomats Walter and Leonore Annenberg, this sprawling property has hosted numerous presidents, global leaders, old Hollywood stars, and business tycoons. The manicured grounds, modeled after the Annenbergs’ collection of impressionist and postimpressionist art, are a labyrinth of infinity pools, shade trees, and plump barrel cactuses sprouting up from the ground. Benches scattered throughout provide opportunity for contemplation and recalibration, and complimentary birding walks, yoga sessions, and tai chi classes take place weekly during high season. Admission to the gardens is free. sunnylands.org

Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
Palm Desert

Bold sculptures by modern artists, including Jaume Plensa (basalt sculpture pictured), dot 6 acres of rolling desert landscape at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Palm Desert location. Docents lead weekly tours of the garden and admission is free. psmuseum.org

Faye Sarkowsky Palm Desert


Amy Roiland


Moorten Botanical Garden
Palm Springs

A chorus of chirping birds and a hand-painted wooden sign greet visitors of Moorten Botanical Garden, where massive agave plants resemble mighty creatures of the sea and rare cactuses outstretch their limbs toward the sky. A natural pathway weaves through curious vegetation, and the sounds of the busy street fade with every step deeper into the brush. More than 3,000 species of desert plants representing a number of ecoregions have been cultivated on this 1-acre lot since 1939 by the Moorten family (the founders’ son Clark, now in his 70s, lives on property and looks after the plants). Toward the back is the “Cactarium,” a greenhouse filled with thorny specimens and succulents that has become one of Palm Springs’ best-loved photo-ops. Open daily, except on Wednesdays, with $5 entry fee. moortenbotanicalgarden.com

Alpenglow Lilac Gardens

In the springtime, this mountain-town garden welcomes visitors with celebratory bursts of purples, blues, pinks, and white against a backdrop of Ponderosa pines. Some of the rarest breeds of lilac flourish here — and more than 50 varieties are available for purchase — but their season is short. Owner Gary Parton opens the private residence between late March and mid-April. Advance reservation is required. alpenglowlilacgardens.com